As revealed in their FAQ, Sony Computer Entertainment have confirmed that the next major update to the PS Vita’s firmware scheduled for March will see the removal of the Maps app from the system along with some features of the Near app being removed or limited in functionality. While this is a surprising move to see features being removed from the PS Vita rather than added to it, in this case it does make sense to us with the advent of the PlayStation TV and the 2000 series PS Vita as both Maps and Near were functions primarily dependent on the Vita’s GPS for their functionality.
In terms of the update itself, Maps will be disabled completely (although Sony have suggested that other mapping services can still be used via the web browser), and Near is losing the use of it’s map function and location acquisition. At the moment Sony have not commented on other aspects of Near being removed such as the ability to send gaming gifts to other players but as location information was a key part of the apps functionality we do not know how this will continue to work in future.
It’s unclear as to whether or not other apps and functions of the PS Vita’s system software will be updated shortly that currently make use of the GPS or use network access to reflect the release of the PSTV or 2000 series Vita but we will keep you posted.